SOME THOUGHTS ON NOTE-TAKING - Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

From my interview with Kay Reindl:
When you're ready to have someone read the script, take the notes with a grain of salt. You'll get a couple of different types of notes. You don't want to listen to anyone who gives you notes based on how THEY would have written the script. That is not helpful to you. But anyone who is actually giving you notes on what you wrote could very well have some valid criticisms. The best way to know is to give the script to several people. If they were all confused by the same thing, had the same reaction, you should probably take a look at it. But if it's a spec script, you do NOT have to change anything!

However, if you're on a show and the showrunner gives you notes, you DO have to address them. The most important thing you need to do is to assess why the showrunner's giving you the notes. Look at the scene and try to deduce what he doesn't like about it. You are not always going to have a savvy showrunner who gives great notes so when you get those people, treasure them. A lot of times, a showrunner's notes will not make the script better. This doesn't matter! Remember that when you're on someone else's show, you're serving THEIR vision as best you can. ALWAYS keep that in mind. And there are creative ways to taking notes that you, unfortunately, will have to figure out along the way. If a showrunner gives you a solve for a problem but you come up with a better one, you should always feel free to ask.
One of the hardest things to do at first as a writer is to give notes based on what the other writer is trying to do. Notes that amount to, "If it were my script, I'd write it this way" aren't helpful. You have to figure out what the script itself seems to want to be. Then tell the writer, "What I think you're trying to do here is X. You might have more success with that if you did Y." By dint of many years giving notes, that's what I try to do, anyway. "I would have done it differently" notes are irrelevant. Of course I would have. But you didn't hire me to write it, did you? And if we all wrote the way I do, the world would be a much more limited place.

With entirely too many science fiction shows in it.

Well, too many for some.

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